Vision Therapy — Developmental Optometry
“Vision isn’t just about seeing well — it’s about how we interpret and interact with the world visually.”
Effective vision comes down to the way the brain and eyes interact. Whether reading words on the board, catching a ball, or tying our shoelaces, we rely on our visual system to work properly in order to succeed in these and other tasks.
Someone can pass all vision screening exams and excel in reading the charts on the wall, but still struggle with poor hand-eye coordination, reading problems, diminished focus, strabismus, convergence insufficiency, and amblyopia —all of which can be effectively addressed through vision therapy.
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision Therapy, also known as Developmental Optometry, is a custom regimen of individualized activities and exercises made to retrain the brain and eyes to work better as a team and improve vision functioning. The aim of vision therapy is to enhance vision processing skills such as eye-tracking, focusing and eye teaming abilities, as well as hand-eye coordination and visual processing speed. This is effective for those struggling with reading, memory, focus, balance, fixation, picking up an object out of the background—and a wide range of other visual tasks.
Vision therapy is not only for children, but can also be effective in adults — particularly if they are determined to improve their visual abilities and strictly adhere to the program. Contact Dr. Patricia Fink Optometry to learn how our team of eye doctors can help you or your child function better in the day-to-day life.
Who Can Benefit From Vision Therapy?
A large number of patients have an undiagnosed vision condition that might be affecting their ability to function, learn, and thrive.
Vision therapy can help patients of all ages with conditions and symptoms related to:
- Convergence Insufficiency
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Learning Disability
- Down Syndrome
- Developmental Disorders
- Anyone seeking to reach peak performance in sports (Sports Vision Training)
Vision Issues: What Symptoms Should You Look Out For?
Teachers, parents, and adults should be on the lookout for the symptoms listed below, as they may indicate a vision issue.
- Lazy eye, cross-eye, double vision
- Difficulty Reading
- Poor classroom performance
- Difficulty staying focused
- Strabismus (where both eyes are not aligned)
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Constant squinting/head tilting
- Using fingers to read
- Favors one eye over the other
- Poor handwriting
- Headaches or fatigue after reading or computer work
Vision Therapy for Strabismus
Strabismus, also known as an “eye turn” or “cross-eye”, is a condition characterized by the improper alignment of the eyes. One of the eyes may look straight ahead, while the other eye may turn inward, outward, upward, or downward.
Vision therapy is a very effective treatment for strabismus. It helps correct the eye misalignment and trains the brain to use both eyes simultaneously, thus merging the images seen by each eye into one consolidated image. Furthermore, vision therapy strengthens neurological pathways to ensure eye teaming over a range of distances.
Vision Therapy for Amblyopia
Amblyopia or “lazy eyes” is a neuro-developmental vision condition where one eye has reduced eyesight, even while wearing glasses or contacts. If left untreated, amblyopia can negatively impact a child’s success in work, school, sports, and friendships.
Traditionally, patching the better-seeing eye was the only method used to treat amblyopia. It is, however, very uncomfortable and offers limited results past a certain age.
Vision therapy, on the other hand, can help improve the amblyope’s visual abilities through a variety of personalized exercises used to improve eye coordination, depth perception and reduce suppression (where the brain inhibits —suppresses —blurred or double vision by ignoring the image of one of the eyes).
How Does Vision Therapy Work?
Vision therapy consists of personalized exercises that make use of lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, and other equipment aimed at developing visual skills and processing. Nowadays, thanks to advanced technologies and new computer-based therapies, doing and tracking homework is easier than ever. Computer programs and vision therapy apps have turned traditional vision therapy exercises into fun and interactive activities.
Vision Therapy typically consists of a weekly 45-minute in-office appointment and approximately 15-minutes of assigned daily exercises. The vision therapy program can range from a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the diagnosis, eye health, and patient compliance. Vision therapy involves close monitoring and follow-up appointments to ensure that there are noticeable improvements and positive changes in the patient’s visual functions. Over the course of the program, the eye doctor will decide how many visits are required in order to achieve optimal results.
How Long Will It Take For to See Results with Vision Therapy?
For some people, gains can be experienced fairly soon. For others, it may take others up to 6 months to realize significant results. This, however, depends on each patient, their unique therapy regimen and their adherence to the vision therapy program.
Is There an Age Limit to Vision Therapy?
There is no age limit. Because of the brain’s neuroplasticity, the brain remains dynamic and flexible throughout one’s life. Just as with training a muscle or playing an instrument, the more we practice, the more skillful we become and the better our visual function.
Does Vision Or Medical Insurance Cover The Cost Of Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy may be covered under major medical insurance plans (vision therapy is most often applied to a medical policy as opposed to a vision policy). However, certain insurance companies may deny or place severe limits on coverage for vision therapy as a cost-saving measure. When sorting out the insurance details for vision therapy, it’s important to know what questions to ask of your insurance agent or workplace HR department.
If you’re considering vision therapy, let us help you understand how to ask the right questions of your insurance company to determine whether you can get coverage.